Category Archives: Author posts

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Pens at the ready…!

Sitting at my rented desk [before I worked in the shed at the bottom of my garden] an email dropped into my inbox. This happens most days, but this one had in it words I’d wanted to hear for some years but had never thought would happen.

Dear Richard

I write to see if you might be interested in the idea of creating a cycling-themed volume of drawings and line illustrations taking its inspiration from the large number of colouring books that have started to appear in bookshops.

I clicked the kettle on, poured the now boiled water onto the tea bag, bounced it around a bit, popped it into the bin, unravelled a hob knob, added milk to my mug, stirred, slurped and continued reading.

I’ve always thought a book would be a really fun idea, and after the success of the colouring in wallpaper I created with the lovely people at Drops in 2015 I thought this might just be the perfect way for me to end up in print.

I excitedly replied to John at Velodrome Publishing.

We soon met up over tea [of course] and cake and talked more about the book and the ideas we both had for it. I mentioned quickly that I’ve never really been into ‘mindfulness’ or colouring to calm you down or meditate. Perhaps it’s ’cause it’s my job, and I love it too much. I’m not saying it’s bad in anyway, I just find that notion a bit kind of airy fairy, dog on a string hippy type for me and that’s never been my bag. Colouring is fun and daft moments of creativity aren’t something to be scared of, or left in childhood with crayola wax crayons. Bright colours are everywhere and having a little moment to grab a pen and throw an idea onto a page should be instant and make you smile whatever age you are. We consider things too’ much these days, especially in this era of social media where the moment you say the wrong thing there’s a pile on and you get a bollocking. I wanted a book for any cycling fan to pick up, read, smile and have a moment of fun anytime, any place.

I didn’t want it to be just colouring either, the plan was to try and take it a bit further and add in elements of design, dot to dot, creative writing, and silliness.

The total of 144 pages felt like a large mountain to climb, but after meeting up for a few days with John and coming up with a whole wall load of ideas I soon realised it was and could happen within the time frame we’d set out.

I worked in thick black sharpie on cheap A4 printer paper. I wanted the book to feel as instant as the work I wanted people to create inside it. As if I’d popped over, drawn in a sketch book quickly, and then buggered off leaving it behind. My thought was that if the drawings inside felt too perfect, too crisp and immaculate then people would have even more concern about getting their own pens out and drawing or colouring in it themselves. This was my main aim, to create something that people really want to create stuff in. If it’s left on a shelf and looked at as a nice thing, then that’s great, but it’s failed. The moment it gets filled with doodles, scribbles, daubs, pencil marks and cut out bits of sticky back plastic I’ve won.

I wasn’t sure about adding in the portraits of legendary riders I’ve kind of become a bit known for at first. For me it was going to be about new stuff. But after a few more chats with John, and a good hard talking to from myself about how people would probably want them in there, I changed my mind. And I’m pleased I did. They add to the structure and history of the whole thing they give the book character and a feeling that it knows about the history of the sport. It’s also a really fun way of introducing people to those riders if they’d never heard of them as they have the chance to research their old jerseys, stories and escapades before creating things for them on the pages.

copy coppi

As the months ticked by [I think it took me about 4 in total to create the whole book] the pile of paper, ideas, reference material and scribbles got larger and larger. But eventually everything had been scanned [RIP my first scanner] and was ready in my machine to put into some sort of order, and add a bit of colour. Adding colour to the pages really helps the book pop. As you turn the pages your eyes are met with some really zingy tones and it all helps keep the fun going throughout. It also fills in some blank sections which could seem a little daunting if you were left with just white.

cycle mega fan

I laid out the book and sent it over to Velodrome for editing and feedback. It was pretty satisfying to have it all ready.

I clicked the kettle on.

We tweaked and refined things a few more times, and we also added in a few new things, such as the lists. Everyone loves a list.

I clicked the kettle on again.

Almost a year after that initial first email I had an advanced copy of the book in my hand. Sometimes I don’t stop and appreciate things that I’ve done, I’m so caught up with finding the next thing to work on [perhaps that’s one of bad things of working for yourself.] I don’t often take time to stop and enjoy the moment things are launched or released into the real world. But books are so tangible, you hold them in your hand, you flick through the pages and have a sniff of the freshly printed pages [that might be just me] that it was impossible not to get completely and utterly daft with excitement at what we had created. I bounced about the living room. I then left John at Velodrome a very very almost drunk on the moment daft voice mail. He’s promised to try and play it to the world one day… That could be embarrassing.

I can’t wait to do it all again.


rmgt
Richard Mitchelson’s Grand Tour
is available now and can be found online here. 

9781911162001

The Curse of the Commentator

Peta McSharry laments some enforced time off the bike.

How many times have I watched a cycle race on TV where the commentator makes a remark about a cyclist only to “jinx” them where they end up crashing or losing a race through bad luck. Too many to remember, that’s for sure, so there must be something in it.

Luck is a funny thing and while it’s bound to run out at some point the coincidences can’t be ignored. Some years back I was having a hack at Cyclocross riding and was following an ex-Pro mountain biker down a bank in Richmond Park in London, I was way out of my comfort zone and travelling way beyond my skill level too.

Pride is an evil companion and half way down the banking I thought “oh dear”, well perhaps not that polite. Instinctively my leg unclipped and I rode down the side like a true Belgium Cyclocross champ. At the bottom the conversation turned to crashing and breaking things, to which I confessed I’d never broken anything as a cyclist. To which I was given the following advice “You are not a real cyclist until you break your collarbone”.

I avoid crashing, mostly because my job requires me to have both arms and legs in tact to make a living and while I don’t hold back descending, I do take care to position myself and keep a beady eye on other riders so I don’t end up in a pile on the tarmac. In the 2012 Paris-Rouxbaix Challenge we were belting it down the gravel section of the cobbles, just two riders closing a gap to the group ahead, when the rider ahead of me went down like a ton of bricks and from the sound I knew he’d done his collarbone. With my hands on the tops there was no braking possible, so I threw the bike around the side of him switching to the gutter on the other side of the cobbles. Sadly I didn’t manage to close the gap to the group and rode in no-mans-land till a rider from behind joined me.

Forcing myself to sit in one place for more than ten minutes has been a life long struggle and many of my nicknames as a child stemmed from this behaviour: cricket, mosquito, Tiger (from Winnie the Pooh) and it’s not something I’ve grown out of. Couple this with the concentration span of a fruit fly and I wondered how on earth I was going to write a whole book.

For that I have the Curse of the Commentator to thank. Pedalling to work having freshly penned the section on Commuter Safety, this I should add is having safely navigated London’s roads every week of the year for the past 18 years to work by bike, my first unfortunate encounter with the tarmac saw me sat on the side of the road unable to remount my bike in my usual fashion and pedal to work. The irony was not lost on me, I was in the process of writing how you as the cyclist is responsible for your own front wheel, and there I was looking at a fractured hand after being taken out by a fellow cyclist on the way to work.

I was not able to cycle for over 6 weeks, but thankfully this did not put me out of work for more than two weeks at best. Unfortunately this break did not qualify me as a “real cyclist” and the cycling Gods would not allow me to publish a book before I proved myself to be a “real” cyclist.

A few years back one of my clients came in to see me, she’d fractured both her wrists, now I’m one for a good story about injuries, so always delve into the where’s and how. On this occasion the incident took place at a ski resort and while my client was climbing some metal stairs to one of the bars her foot catch and she tripped. Putting both hands out to break her fall resulted in the fractures to here wrists. My instinctive answer was “clearly you weren’t drunk enough”, to which she laughed. It’s obvious if you’re drunk your responses will be delayed and you won’t get your hands up fast enough.

In all the times I’ve crashed I still seem to be holding onto my handlebars, obviously my fruit fly brain must have been elsewhere and not instructing my hands to break my fall. This good fortune was not to last and it was only a few weeks back that my luck on London’s roads ran out. Pedalling home from the station I heard a car come up too close to me, following my own advice I gave them a shoulder check, but they were right on top of me and my racing instinct kicked in and I shifted with their line of travel, unfortunately when I looked up I was going into the back of the a parked car. I saw my arm shoot up in front of me to break my fall and I was stepping off the bike. I collided heavily with the car, dislocating my finger, which I promptly relocated as stuff like that freaks me out a little. Once we’d settled all witness accounts, I walk a little until I feel less shaken, then hopped on the bike a cycled home. I got into bed and tentatively pressed down on the collarbone.

It was at that moment I realised the Commentators Curse was lifted and had become a Real Cyclist. But couldn’t help thinking if I could have warded it off with the Spirits which would have stopped me putting out my arm to break my fall.

Meet the Authors

Peta McSharry

peta
Cycling has been a part of Peta McSharry’s life since a very early age and she competed in her first sportive at the age of nineteen. She has since developed into one of the leading members of the UK cycling community. She placed second in the infamous Paris-Roubaix race and completed the 3,500km of one of the toughest courses of the Giro d’Italia. A day job in sports and remedial massage allows McSharry to work with cyclists and athletes of all levels, with her role as a teacher at the leading LSSM school ensuring she is at the sharp end of current massage and fitness research.

Richard Mitchelson


Richard Mitchelson is originally from Yorkshire, Britain’s Cycling heartland, but is now based in the South Downs. He now creates animation, illustration, and design for clients such as: Rouleur Magazine, Mind Candy, Oakley, Mark Cavendish, Team Sky Pro Cycling, British Cycling, The Global Cycling Network (GCN), Eurosport, Howies, Strava and Evans Cycles.
His main inspiration comes from commercial artwork of the 1950’s and the fast paced, action packed, character filled world of cycle racing.

Geoffrey Nicholson

Geoffrey Nicholson was one of the most original, prolific and best-liked sports writers of the past 50 years. He helped transform the character of sports journalism in the late 1950s by eschewing tabloid cliches and public relations hype and introducing a quality of writing which matched that of the arts and foreign pages. He was to become sports editor of the Observer and the Sunday Correspondent, sports features editor of the Sunday Times and rugby correspondent of the Independent. Nicholson’s main interest was cycling, and he covered the Tour de France for 20 years.

Camille McMillan

One-time racer, full-time artist and dreamer, now living in a cabin on a mountain in the Ariege, French Pyrenees, Camille McMillan’s passion for professional cycling began at an early age, long before competing in the sport as a junior in the UK and Europe. This passion was to later merge with his increasing fascination with image-making.

Hannah Grant


Hannah Grant, is an accomplished chef from Copenhagen, with experience ranging from modern Danish-French restaurants to the world’s no. 1 restaurant Noma and the Kite Boarding expedition boat, Offshore Odysseys. Hannah spent 5 years with the World Tour cycling team Tinkoff-Saxo and is working in with Danish morning TV as well as developing recipes for a number of sports publications. Her passion and creativity for food is demonstrated in these recipes and you will taste your way to the ultimate, better, faster and lighter performance. In 2016 Hannah moves to Dimension Data to work on Sports nutrition strategy development.